I love celebrating International Women’s Day. It’s a time to reflect on how far we’ve come since Australia first awarded women the vote back in 1902. Recognition of the progress we’ve made in recent years to get business focused on gender balance. And a reminder that we still have a long way to go, in order to ensure true equality, fairness and safety for women.
It’s terrific that we have more female role models than ever to aspire to: community leaders, business leaders and government leaders alike. Still, it’s obvious that we still have a long way to go when one considers that:
- women still hold fewer than one in ten executive positions in our public companies
- women earn on average $4 per hour LESS than their equivalent male counterparts and retire with less than half the median superannuation balance as men; and
- one in three Australian women are in abusive relationships and there is one woman killed every week by intimate partner.
Although my work mainly involves gender equity in the workplace, that doesn’t prevent me from being horrified by this last point in particular.
Still, today is a day of celebration today, of coming together and working together for the future of women and all our communities.
Yes, today is a day to be inspired, and if you’re looking for inspiration, can I encourage you all to take some quiet time over the weekend to review the new Ernst & Young Women in Leadership report, “In Their Own Words”? This is the fourth report in the Ernst & Young gender diversity series, and I think it’s the best. Why? Because this time, EY has asked 15 Australian leaders to share what enabled their success, as a woman in business.
You can hear first hand the stories of these women, who share their experiences, advice and observations on what got them to where they are today:
- Therese Rein, founder and CEO of Ingeus, the world’s largest provider of welfare-to-work services
- Jane Hemstritch, non-executive director of four ASX-listed companies
- Tina Thomas, Woodside’s Senior Vice President of Corporate:
- Cathy Foley, Chief of Material Science & Engineering at CSIRO
- Annabel Spring, Commonwealth Bank Group Executive for Wealth Management
- Nessa O’Sullivan, Group CFO for Coca Cola Amatil
- Linda Kristjanson, Vice-Chancellor of Swinburne University
- Julie Mackay, Executive Director of UN Women Australia
- Leah Armstrong, CEO of Reconciliation Australia
- Janine Garrett, the founder of CHARM Health, a leading health informatics company
- Melinda Cruz, CEO and Founder of the Miracle Babies Foundation, a national charity supporting parents of premature babies
- Marion Webster and Renata Singer, social entreprenteurs
- Lindley Edwards, Group CEO of AFG Venture Group
- And me – yes, I was the only SheEO in this marvellous mix of women J
So on International Women’s Day, I hope you are inspired by the successes and stories of these women and that you are able to reflect on your own achievements in life too.
“Success is not about how much money you make… it’s about making a contribution that is important” – Linda Kristjanson
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing… Happy International Women’s Day 2013!